Tele-Talk Responses: What type of upgrades should take place at the Conway Community Building?

Last week’s Tele-Talk question, “What type of upgrades should take place at the Conway Community Building?” called for responders to think critically, to craft an answer other than ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and they delivered. The responses were split: seven for rebuilding the center; four for renovating the current building; and three other responses that ask more questions of their own.

Why not use the middle school and upgrade that gym, put air conditioning in, use those extra rooms for summer camps, and offer kids more options? Then the improvements help more kids year-round. Having multiple buildings owned by the town for separate uses is expensive. Spend money on upgrades that benefit more kids.

This is how I see it; put the sixth-graders in the middle school, and then combine the elementary schools down to two, and use the extra elementary school building as the rec center. Problem solved, money saved!

Mow it down and totally rebuild it, including the Aquatic Center along with it. It is about time we invested in our future by providing a top-shelf recreational experience for our youth.

Keep up with Joneses. Taxpayers can’t keep paying higher and higher taxes. Spend $450,000, not $3 million. We don’t need Taj Mahal. Fix the drug epidemic in Conway first.

Upgrade it. The water isn’t even potable, and employees have to carry water for the campers. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Isn’t the building fairly new?

No upgrade. Tear it down and work out something with some other entity like the Community Center in North Conway. Or else, float a bond to build a new one. But this entire mess could have been minimized if John Eastman had given early warnings and/or if the board of selectmen had accepted. Sut Marshall’s donation of a facility that at least had running water and looked to be just fine. This entire mess is on the staff, sad. Conway

Modest upgrades.

The Conway Rec Center is an exceptional place where my three grandchildren have been involved with numerous sports and the summer rec program every year for the past five years. John Eastman and Mike Lane (and wonderful staff) provide a very important service to their community. Many parents depend on this program so they can work to support their families. With 350 children signed up for the summer program (consistently every year), there is obviously a tremendous need for this center. I believe that where there is a need, a dedicated staff in place and a caring community, we should support this program by providing a decent building for it to function. Presently, they are operating out of a rickety old school building that does not meet their needs, but they have made the best of it. Where there is such need, I think we should build a new center at the current location — tear down the old and build a new center that will be used for years. Our kids are worth it! Janice, Bartlett.

Torch it so the volunteer firefighters can practice putting it out, let the Air Force pilots use it for bombing practice, or nuke it. Then build another one.

We are made to believe it’s all about kids. Well, it isn’t. That building is old and will need replacements for many many years. Tear it down, and use the space for a new town hall sometime in the future.

Bulldozer, excavator, tear it down, build something brand new.

Yes, I support a total rebuild of the Conway Community Building. The community needs a new facility for the rec programs, sports leagues, teen center, and it also could serve as a senior center for the seniors who are more active. As the baby boomers retire, this group needs a place where they can be active year-round, and I think the community owes it to the young kids and the seniors. Joe, Center Conway.

I would restructure the question: There are three major renovations/new buildings potentially facing the Conway voters in the near future: Rank them in your order of importance, from most to least? The three potential additions to our debt are: 1. Conway Community Center – From $450,000 to $3 million paid for by the taxpayers. 2. Renovation/Replacement of Town Hall – Renovation costs subject to review. “Rumor mill” has it that the Laconia Bank Building has been appraised at $600,000 and would meet long term needs of the town staff, if available for sale. 3. Pine Tree School Renovation – the third of three renovations of the Conway School District’s Elementary Schools, estimated to cost north of $900,000 to bring it up to standard. I believe that the renovation/replacement of town hall is the most important infrastructure item for the town/school district. An opportunity to fix a problem for the long term with replacement of a marginal facility with a much newer structure does not come along often. One issue that must be addressed is another “rumor mill” topic: “Does the “property deed” state that in the event that the property is no longer used for town government purposes, the property will revert to the original owner of the property? If that is the case, it could be a significant wrench in the works. The renovation/complete rebuild of the Conway Community Building would be my second priority — I have gone through the facility recently and believe that the modest upgrade discussed in your original question is the minimum necessary to keep the Recreation department functional. A key question here is: “How long would the “modest upgrade” extend the life of the current facility, and would that also meet the needs of the population 10-15 years down the road? Spending north of $900,000 for the renovation/rebuild of the third of three Conway School District Elementary Schools would be my lowest priority. In 2007, the total school district budget was approximately $31 million a year. The budget that just closed its books was very close to $40 million annually. A significant portion of the increase is due to the new teachers’ contract, and two bond issues for the renovation of John Fuller (work completed last year) and Conway Elementary School (work in progress). It is important to remind the voters that the school district has eleven classrooms available for use in Kennett Middle School, which currently cost approximately $65,000 annually to maintain in what the military would call “mothball status.” Bottom line, in my personal opinion, the Conway taxpayer has sunk more than adequate monies into Conway School District’s infrastructure, and the town side of the ledger needs attention. It may well be that the only way to ensure some equality between the two elements is to examine ways to modify the governing structure of the town and district. Jim LeFebvre.

Tele-Talk Responses: Should Conway's sixth-graders attend Kennett Middle School?

Thirty-three people responded to last week’s Tele-Talk question: “Should Conway’s sixth-graders attend Kennett Middle School?” Twenty responses supported the move while seven were against it. The remaining six responses brought more questions to light and offered alternatives instead of providing support for the current option. School board members were scheduled Monday night to vote on the motion that would put the unused space to use by bringing roughly 100 sixth-graders to the empty space by the 2018-19 school year.

Yes (sixth-graders should attend Kennett Middle School), and it’s time for Bartlett, Jackson, Madison and Freedom to join the Conways in one school, and staff the classes with teachers from those schools. If they go to Kennett High School, they should go to Kennett Middle School.

Just because other schools do it is not a reason for Conway to. What is the educational impact for students? Children in this day and age are constantly pushed to grow up faster and faster. This is just one more way. It is important to let them be children as long as we can. The other impact is for fifth-graders who then take on the responsibilities and roles that sixth-graders do now in schools. Are all of those students prepared? And then there is the research on transitions for students. The later the transition between schools, the more positive the impact; that continues through high school and even later in life, whether it’s college or adulthood. There is so much more to this than just a money or logistical decision. Where is the data? Where is the input? Is this a forever decision? Can it be reversed? Please don’t make this decision without being able to answer these questions.

No. I’d like to see the elementary schools go to eighth grade. Get rid of middle school.

As someone who has taught fifth and sixth grade for 16 years, I have direct experience working with this age group. One important factor to consider is that most elementary classrooms are self-contained, meaning students stay in the same room with the same teachers for most of the day. This is great for younger students who need an environment that fosters close guidance and support as they grow up. In a middle-school format, students move between classrooms and have different teachers for each subject, which allows for more in-depth academic learning and encourages independence. In my opinion, sixth-graders have generally outgrown the elementary classroom structure and are developmentally ready for middle school instruction.

Absolutely! And I agree they should close an elementary school. How many towns have three elementary schools within 10 miles of each other? And with the Waldorf and Robert Frost schools and more kids being home-schooled, class sizes are dropping.

Yes! They can go to after-school programs to help with getting out earlier if that’s really an issue. I went to the middle school there and was the first class to attend all four years at the high school. I would love to see it being used for more kids. It has a lot of history through the halls, and it’s a shame to see it as empty as it is. I wish I had been able to spend more time there.

You know, on one hand, it’ll make class sizes smaller, open up more jobs for faculty and hopefully bring a better all-around experience for the students. But a lot of people have brought up some good points about being with older students and such. Tough call.

No, let them be kids for one more year.

Back in Massachusetts when I was in school, my middle school went from fifth to eighth grade; I couldn’t take the bus due to living within three miles. I would like to see Freedom move sixth grade to the middle school.

I think all sixth-graders, including Madison and Freedom students as well, should all be transitioning at that time.

Sixth grade was when I started middle school. I don’t see why not.

Keep in mind these sixth-grade students will be riding the buses with students much older than them, exposed to conversations they shouldn’t be hearing and catching a bus hours earlier than prior years. (They’ll) then be dismissed from school much earlier to probably empty homes.

Will it save taxpayers money? When and how much? I think the average sixth-grader can handle it.

From what I’ve seen by working there, no, no thank you.

Possibly a better plan would be to have what I call empty spaces plan. There are two door entrances in front of the now Conway Middle School. One entrance by the columns and the entrance near the railroad tracks, which I call entrance B. Next the mothball space would be made into middle school classrooms. Move all the seventh- and eighth-graders now that are on the left of entrance B to the new classrooms and what was the mothball space, which would leave classrooms in space on the left of the entrance B empty. Next, move all of the Conway Elementary into this left empty space. So, all the seventh and eighth grade would be right on the right, and all the Conway Elementary would be on the left. The now Conway Elementary would be empty, so move the Center Conway Rec Center into the empty Conway Elementary. Then the now Conway Rec Center would be empty, so move the town hall into this empty Center Conway Rec Center. And finally the empty town hall could be sold.

Yes, I do think that they said attend the Kennett Middle School, but the only way that they should attend the Kennett Middle School means we’re going to shut down one of the other schools, whether it be Pine Tree or one of those because it’s all about saving money, and we definitely know that the Conway School Board isn’t about that, so here we go again.

Yes, there’s definitely enough room for sixth-graders and also fifth-graders. It’s about the kids, and I believe that they could close one or two grammar schools and they will more than make up the difference. There are lots of large rooms that could be made into two rooms, plus the old gym. Come on school board, wake up. This is from a poor and frustrated taxpayer.

I think they absolutely should move the sixth-graders to the middle school. You know, with as much space as they have, and as little things to do with it, I wonder if we actually should’ve built the new high school.

Absolutely, let’s get smart and try to save some money.

Moving the sixth-graders is not in the best interest of our town. The school board is proposing to move the wrong students. If there’s enough room in the elementary school such that we could close one, then there’s enough room to move the seventh- and eighth-graders back to their neighborhood schools where the staff has known them for six years. The middle school has three teams of teachers; assign one to each of the elementary schools to teach the seventh- and eighth-graders. We then wouldn’t need the KMS administration, which would save the town money. They’ll turn the middle school building into the town offices and rec center, sell the rec center and town office buildings, which would save the town money. This might also reduce busing needs, which could save the town money. The Bartlett and Tamworth middle school students stay in their local schools instead of being added to the maelstrom that is KMS. Nobody wants to lose their neighborhood school, so leave our sixth-graders alone and return the seventh- and eighth-graders back to their neighborhood schools.

Yes, but that’s only one step. They should also close one of the elementary schools.

I think this is a very good idea to move the sixth-graders to the middle school and use some of that space that’s available. This is Jack from Conway.

Of course the sixth grade should be moved. Randy is spot on with this. It’s time Hounsell and the rest of the naysayers woke up and realized what efficiency is all about. Conway Village

Yeah, sure, great idea. What the heck, why not?

I thought all middle schools were sixth, seventh and eighth grades. I’m confused. My kids went to middle school in Rochester and it was all three.

It is regrettable that responses to this question will not be printed in the paper until after the school board meeting on Monday, although how much impact they would have on any board decision is open to question. With that said, it is my opinion that the Conway sixth-graders should attend KMS next school year (2018-19), taking the following into consideration: 1. The Conway School Board is on record as stating that such a move makes educational sense. 2. Various counter arguments seem focused on the loss of revenue from the sending towns, which is roughly estimated at $300,000 per year. For the sake of argument, let’s make the math is easy and assume that the “contracts with the sending towns” have 10 years to run. Total lost revenue over that period is $3 million, not an insignificant amount, until one considers that the total annual budget for this system is $40 million. The 10-year cost is $400 million, assuming no further increases in spending. Hence, the total loss in revenue is less than 1 percent of the current annual and 10-year (conservatively estimated) budgets.
3. At a very recent Conway Municipal Budget Committee meeting, the committee members were briefed on the dollars anticipated to be left in the general fund when the current year books are finally closed. The administration estimates that they will have $1.1 million (the conservative case) left in the general fund, (and the administration and school board can take a bow for that fact) prior to any action on the part of the school board to retain the 2.5 percent authorized by the voters a few years ago. 4. The total compensation cost for three school liaison officers was briefed at over $300,000, and we do not currently have any means of evaluation of their effectiveness. 5. While some may argue that we have no means in place to measure how educationally beneficial the movement of the sixth grade would be for the students, if we are to believe the expert’s literature, the benefits appear to outweigh the costs, which can be absorbed within the budget in any event.

No.

Yes, it is long overdue!

Absolutely.

No.

No.

Absolutely.

Yes.

Tele-Talk: What type of upgrades should take place at the Conway Community Building?

Conway selectmen recently appointed a Recreation Study Committee to assess upgrading or replacing the Conway Community Building, which houses the town's summer rec program, sports leagues and a teen center. It lacks air conditioning and seating in the gym, has lead leaching from the pipes and needs fire sprinklers. According to Public Works Director Paul DegliAngeli, bringing it up to code would cost about $450,000; modest upgrades would cost about $1.2 million; and a total rebuild, $3 million.

This week's Tele-Talk question: What type of upgrades should take place at the Conway Community Building?

Call (603) 733-5822 Saturday and Sunday and leave your comments on our machine. You may fax your responses to (603) 356-8360 or email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Comments can also be posted on The Conway Daily Sun's Facebook page. Results will be published Tuesday.

 

Tele-Talk: Do you think Conway’s sixth-graders should attend Kennett Middle School?

 

On Monday, July 24, the Conway School Board is scheduled to vote on a motion to put Kennett Middle School’s unused space to use by bringing roughly 100 sixth-graders from Conway’s three elementary schools there by the 2018-19 school year.

This week’s Tele-Talk question:  Do you think Conway’s sixth-graders should attend Kennett Middle School?

Call (603) 733-5822 Saturday and Sunday and leave your comments on our machine. You may fax your responses to (603) 356-8360 or email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Comments can also be posted on The Conway Daily Sun’s Facebook page. Results will be published Tuesday.